Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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'The Woman in White'

'The Woman in White',  Wadsworth Athenaeum
'The Woman in White', Wadsworth Athenaeum

'The Woman in White' was drawn in a letter to George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) dating from 26 June 1862; the relevant part of the letter reads:

' "The White Girl" was refused at the Academy where they only hung the Brittany Sea piece and the Thames Ice Sketch! both of which they have stuck in as bad a place as possible - Nothing daunted I am now exhibiting the White Child at another exposition where she shows herself proudly to all London! [p. 3] that is to all London who goes to see her! She looks grandly in her frame and creates an excitement in the Artistic World here which the Academy did not prevent, or forsee after turning it out I mean - In the catalogue of this exhibition it is marked

"Rejected at the Academy"

What do you say to that! isn't that the way to fight 'em! Besides which it is affiched all over the Town as

[drawing of placard inscribed:] Whistler's Extraordinary picture the WOMAN IN WHITE

That is done of course by the Directors but certainly it is waging an open war with the Academy, eh?' 1

It relates to the first exhibition of Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl [YMSM 038] in a gallery in Berners Street, London, in 1862.

The drawing is catalogued in MacDonald 1995 (cat. rais.) [more] (cat. no. 303).

The full text of the letter is given in The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, 1855-1903, edited by Margaret F. MacDonald, Patricia de Montfort and Nigel Thor,. Online edition, University of Glasgow. GUW #11977.


1: 26 June [1862], GUW #11977.

Last updated: 11th March 2021 by Margaret